CEOs differ on hospital needs

By Staff
Huntsville Hospital, Crestwood disagree on what city needs
Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
Huntsville Hospital CEO Joe Austin said it has been and will always be the intent of Huntsville Hospital to build a full service medical facility in Madison – one that will contain a 24-hour emergency room and can expand as the city grows.
So, is a 120-bed hospital too big for Madison at the present time?
According to Austin – yes.
Expressing a different view, Crestwood Hospital CEO Brad Jones said he's going ahead with plans to build a 120-bed, full-service hospital in Madison just as soon as they win state approval to get the additional beds allotted in Madison County.
According to Lori Light, director of marketing and public relations for Crestwood Hospital, Crestwood is still waiting for a decision by the State Health Coordinating Council on its formal request to adjust the State Health Plan that will allow the additional beds in Madison County.
Jones said based on research and data collected on the state level, there is a clear and objective need for that many beds in Madison.
"From the information we've gathered, within the next five years, a 120-bed hospital in Madison will be fully utilized," Jones said. "It makes sense to go ahead and build a facility that size now."
Jones said any proposal to get additional beds allotted in a community could be dangerous.
"When you request to get additional beds allotted in a community, a certificate of need will come into play," Jones said. "The likelihood of obtaining multiple certificates of need is small. If Huntsville Hospital wants to build a hospital that can be expanded, getting another certificate of need to get those additional beds could be hard."
Jones said demographics, utilization and population changes all come into the picture when determining how many beds are necessary in a hospital.
Questions asked by residents of Madison as to the kind of services that will be offered prompted Austin to say he does not want to confuse residents of Madison or the members of the Madison Hospital Advisory Committee into believing that Huntsville Hospital plans to build a medical facility that only treats and stabilizes a patient before transferring him to the hospital's main campus in Huntsville.
"That simply isn't true," Austin said. "We are committed to building a full service hospital in Madison with the 24-hour emergency room department and build the appropriate number of beds in that hospital based on need. I don't think a 120-bed hospital in Madison is necessary at this time, but we will build a hospital that will treat and care for the patient at the Madison hospital."
Jones said Crestwood would build a full-service hospital that will treat and care for the patient at the Madison hospital as well.
"That is the plan we presented Madison this past summer and that is the plan we are staying with," Jones said.
Members of the hospital advisory committee are now reviewing the plans presented to them by Austin and Jones. The committee is also looking into how certificates of need are obtained.
Huntsville Hospital plans to build its facility at its U.S. Highway 72 and Balch Road site where a medical office building is located and where a wellness center is now under construction.
Jones said a site near Madison Boulevard might be considered for a new hospital.
It is unknown when the State Health Coordinating Council will make a decision regarding the approval of the additional 120 beds in Madison County.

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